Today I’m joining a talented group of writers at Five Minute Friday. This community connects each Friday in an online, unedited free-write based on a one-word prompt. My timer is set for 5 minutes. Let’s see where this week’s prompt–HOSPITALITY–leads me.
Growing up in the south, I developed an understanding, at least my own childlike version, of hospitality. Every time a new family moved into the neighborhood my mom would bake cookies or cake and, depending on the weather, carry along a pitcher of iced water or tea. To my mind, this was hospitality.
As time went by, my belief changed and hospitality became a party, hosted by me with a tidy house, lots of food, and me scrambling at the last minute to make sure everything was as it should be. Everyone else had a great time. I ended up collapsing in a chair or across my bed when everything was said and done.
Now I’m in my retirement years and all that hustle and bustle has gone by the wayside. What is hospitality in my life now? Reaching out in my community to foster a good understanding of what hospitality should be is what we should place as a priority. True hospitality is what we find in the story of Mary and Martha.
When Jesus happens upon the village where Mary and Martha live, Martha is eager to invite him into their home. Mary takes a place at the feet of Jesus and listens to him. Martha, on the other hand, is distracted by many tasks and chores, so much so she asks Jesus to tell Mary to come and help her. To this request, Jesus responds with “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” (Luke 10:41-42, The Message)
To clarify, Jesus isn’t saying one of the women is wrong while the other is right, or vice versa. They are each serving up their hospitality in different ways. Martha extended the hand of welcome to Jesus and invited him into her home, while Mary sat down to listen and give her attention to Jesus’s words. Mary and Martha have chosen different paths of ministry.
(Time used to confirm Scripture citation and to select images was not included in the 5 minutes.)
Wonderful thoughts on hospitality! I like how you emphasize that Mary and Martha weren’t wrong in their approaches (even though Martha got a bit too het up).
Your neighbor at FMF (#4).
Thanks for your kind words, Amy. That Martha! Het up she did get, didn’t she?
Y’all inspired a sonnet. Hope you like it.
Mary, could you please get up
and give me, now, a hand?
Let the Master sit and sup;
I know He’ll understand.
I’m sure that you can hear Him
from across the room;
trim the wick, please light is dim,
and have you seen the broom?
Must you hang on every word
while the table must be cleared?
Really, this is so absurd;
He’ll be here for years!
Master, could you chip in,please?
Wait, what? Sit down, and take MY ease?
#1 at FMF this week.
Andrew, I loved this sonnet! Read it aloud to my husband who also found it astounding and beautiful. Thanks for stopping by and sharing it here. Good to be your neighbor this week at FMF.
Beautiful post, Sherrey.
Thanks, dear Jill!
Hmm. Thought-provoking. I miss the Good Old Days when nobody thought twice about walking up to a friend’s door (in the really old days, that would be the kitchen door because only bad news arrived at the front one) knocking — or maybe, if it was a close friend, just walking in with a holler — and sitting down in the middle of whatever was going on for a cuppa and few words.
Today I’d eagerly welcome drop-in visitors, but nobody I know would drop in without planning the visit days in advance than I’d drop in unannounced on them. In fact, bizarre as it sounds, I feel like I need to text or email before I even pick up the phone to CALL someone!
“She’s so busy. I hate to intrude …”
“I don’t want to embarrass her by finding three days of mail strewn around the coffee table or breakfast dishes still on the table and a greasy skillet on the stove. and (GASP!) a SOCK in the middle of the living room floor.”
“She probably has to fold laundry and …”
On the list goes.
We’re cut off from our friends. We’ve lost spontaneity. Maybe even with self.
Having notice someone is coming to visit is a double-edged sword. At this stage of life, without children running in and out, it’s easy enough to keep at least the public areas relatively tidy, so it seldom takes more than five or ten minutes to dispense with any clutter and make the kitchen at least look tended to. But this carries a price. A couple of friends have commented after visiting more than twice that my house is a little scary because it’s always neat and clean. Obviously theirs isn’t and they feel they’d be judged. Well heck! If I have four days notice Jill is coming over on Thursday afternoon, what excuse do I have for not tidying up? And then she thinks my house is always clean and hesitates to invite me to hers because it’s “a mess.”
I could write about this for ten hours.
Part of the reason things have changed — this is a truth my long-retired self easily ignores — is due to the fact that us gals all went to work a few decades ago, so for the most part our neighborhoods are devoid of people during the day. There’s nobody home to visit with, and people really ARE busy during the short time they spend at home. Retired friends live at least several minutes away by car. When I go out, I’m running errands and don’t generally have time to stop for a visit with anyone. I’m more likely to drop in on my “friends” at Goodwill to see if I can find, well, a vase I like better to hold an arrangement in my newly redecorated powder room that nobody will see because nobody visits. Also, nobody lives near the path I stick to when I do go out. Traffic now flows along arterials, shielding neighborhoods in tight mazes.
HOW DO WE BREAK THIS CYCLE?
Talk about it. Make pacts with friends that it’s okay, even encouraged, to drop in on each other. Agree with each other to be Marys, not Marthas. Realize that, especially if we’ve been ailing, clutter and dust are expected and keep us human with each other.
DARE TO TRUST THAT WE’RE MORE IMPORTANT THAN OUR STUFF OR SERVING THE PERFECT BLUEBERRY TART.
Thanks for bringing this up and providing space and inspiration to stir up these thoughts.
Sharon, thanks for taking this post to the next level. I cannot disagree with anything you’ve said here. It is all true. Always happy to have you here.
Funny how the seaons of life affect so many aspects…even our idea and practice of hospitality. But, its true. I’m still working on the best way to extend (and accept) hosptility in this new season for me.
Jennifer, finding the best means of hospitality takes a little time and a little introspection. Learning who we are and how we want to present ourselves in hospitality isn’t a one-day workshop. I especially like your description of extending and accepting hospitality. Thanks for stopping by!
I love when people just stop in, it’s when people plan visits that gets me all stressed.
Jesus was correcting Martha though. He was telling her to stop fretting cause she didn’t need to fret so. THAT is what I need to remember. To stop the fretting and get on with the listening to those who come in my front door. 🙂
Right you are, Annette! Jesus was correcting Martha, and I am a fretter who can’t stop. I like your words “listening to those who come in my front door.” You’ve got me thinking about my fretting–thanks!
I love this post tracing your thoughts connecting one example of hospitality to another and then embracing the Mary & Martha story. You are gathering a great group of friends here, and I love to read their comments. I too am bothered that I can’t drop in at others’ homes, even my daughter’s without making “arrangements.”
Oh, dear Marian, even your daughter’s? I can’t imagine you being a person who has to schedule a visit to family. However, I can remember (and it is in my draft memoir) times my mother announced herself by opening our door and just appearing. Granted she wasn’t someone I welcomed in my life very much at that time, and likely is not the reason for your “arrangements.” But we live in another time, and I doubt I show up at our son’s home without them knowing we were coming. Thanks for your kind words and gracious comments.
Comments are closed.
Looking for Something?
Top Posts & Pages
Posts from the Past
What I Write About
Licensing with Creative Commons
Life in the Slow Lane by Sherrey Meyer is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0
Be the First to Read a Post